Guest posts and site news

bullet image The International Drug Policy Reform Conference begins tomorrow in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Unfortunately, I won’t be there. I really hate missing out on the chance to see so many folks that I know mostly online.

But hopefully you won’t miss out. I’ve got a couple of friends who have agreed to do some guest blogging here during the conference to let you know what’s going on — reactions to the conference in general or reports on specific workshops or plenaries. So don’t be surprised if you see some different writing here (all the posts have the author’s name at the bottom). If there are others at the conference who would like to share, send me your stuff and I’ll post it for you!

bullet image I’m not giving up yet, but I may have to ditch Google Ads. Ever since the move to the new address, Google Ads has not performed well here, serving up very few relevant ads. Despite increased traffic, ad revenue has actually been decreasing (down to about one-fifth of what it was). I think it’s because of “drugwarrant” in the address — Google may be blocking general interest ads because of the word “drug.”

Anybody have experience with other ad servers? AdBrite? AdBrite seems interesting because it allows people to specifically purchase ads on this site in addition to serving up general ads. And I want to go with a service that doesn’t require a lot of work dealing with advertising myself. (ie, put the code on the page and let it work). Again, I’m not trying to make a living off the advertising, and I don’t want to turn this into a site with annoying ads blocking everything — I like the simple ad on the right approach that people can view or not as they wish. However, it would be nice for it to actually do a better job of helping with my costs.

bullet image I’ve moved DrugWarRant to a private server at DreamHost, due to some difficulties I was having with processing posts when other sites on the same server were also experiencing high volume. This has increased the monthly charge slightly, but should make the site very stable.

If you’re interested, there is a button on the left where you can make a contribution to the server costs for Drug WarRant. The money goes directly to pre-paying my server bill at DreamHost (not to me) and means that I get a bill less often, which is nice.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Guest posts and site news

  1. Chris says:

    I’m all for guest comments on the blog – the more news, the better.

  2. R.O.E. says:

    Yes lets hear what going on.

    Hey Pete, wish I could donate to your server costs(anything to end this drug war), but like many others,I’m unemployed. Maybe things will change.

    • Pete says:

      Don’t worry about it R.O.E. I don’t want anyone to donate if they can’t afford it. If we’re still fighting this thing when you’re back in the black, then you can throw a couple bucks in.

  3. This oped has appeared in a few New England papers and I
    think it makes our drive to legalize drugs comprehensive.
    This could be done state by state with local state figures.

    Legalization without indemnification is totally irresponsible

    The recent push to decriminalize and legalize drugs, especially marijuana, has picked up steam all over the world. California Governor Schwarzenegger said legalization has to be put on the table. Rhode Island has written into its new medical marijuana law that in 2012 outright legalization would be formally addressed. Portugal has decriminalized small amounts of formerly illegal drugs, along with Mexico. Many countries now have such policies on the table for consideration.

    But in the United States the drug reform movement, if one can call it that, is sharply focused on marijuana and not on drug prohibition as a whole. Unfortunately this focus ignores three other longstanding and devastating social issues. First, drug war policies have needlessly taken potential taxpayers out of the community and spent tax money to keep them in prison. Second, twenty million children have been orphaned because one or both parents have been sent to prison on drug related charges. Third, in that process, public and higher education have been dramatically shortchanged.

    As a result, billions of dollars that could well be funneled into education and health care instead of going aimlessly into law enforcement for myriad scams and follies. We have taken countless young people out of our community on drug charges and wonder why they and their contemporaries no longer have faith in our system. Our children are not stupid; they see two forms of justice, one for the well-connected and one for the poor. Society will pay for this perception of injustice for decades to come.

    But we must also not forget the impact of the War on local economies. The police chiefs of Camden, Newark, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles have said that parts of their cities would collapse financially without the illegal drug trade. It’s one thing to knock someone on the head for money to buy drugs, but it’s a different thing to do it to buy bread. The drug economy would need to be replaced. Using Connecticut as an example we can see the potential. Studies show that it has three and half million residents with over a six hundred million dollar prison budget. The prison population, some 17,000, with seventy percent serving time for drug related charges, presents a goldmine of economic opportunity. We must also remember that in the late eighties to early nineties Connecticut spent a billion dollars to build prisons, with luck never to be repeated.

    So when illegal drugs are one day legalized, medicalized or decriminalized, that will present the state a windfall of around four hundred million dollars per year. All of following could be accomplished with the stroke of a pen. That could mean a million dollar health policy for every man, woman and child. It could mean a hundred million toward free tuition and fees for everyone who wishes to go to college. It could mean a hundred million toward the funding of our public school system with one teacher and assistant per ten pupils grades K-8. It could mean a hundred million toward providing those after school programs which are so direly needed, filled with athletics, academic and social programs that are missing today.

    There would also be the 9 or 10 million dollars in new tax revenue from the legalization of marijuana. This revenue could be used for all sorts of treatment programs for those that want and need it, plus what cities and towns would save and reallocate from their police budgets. And think about this, what if cannabis cigarettes were made in the community as opposed to RJ Reynolds. And often forgotten is that the legalization of industrial hemp could be a real prize here in terms of new products and jobs. Hemp has the potential to become a multi-billion dollar industry in Connecticut alone. And guess what, very few in the criminal justice system would have to lose their jobs. What I am talking about is not only a shift in monies but a reassignment of personnel.

    The War On Drugs is America’s longest conflict, and those who are primarily affected by it need to be compensated for an ill-advised, mindless, megalomaniacal, policy. After all, there was the Marshall plan after WWII.

    There will be a economic report in the coming year that will highlight the money spent by cities to fight this unwinnable war on drugs in Connecticut. This report will blow you away.

  4. R.O.E. says:

    You bet Pete !

    Hey Clifford,thanks for posting that. It really goes along way to show the same thoughts I have rumbling around in my head on a daily basis.

    I think this lil’ snowball has gained great size and is about to cause a huge avalance.

  5. Please post your thoughts. This converstaion is long over due and as I said it gives drug reform a comprehensive approach as opposed to just legalization. I am very interested in what you think and wish this conversation can continue. In poor black and brown communities the term is reparations, in poor white communities it is restorative justice. In the rich communities of all ethnic and racial groups it is the re-distribution of income and wealth. Please respond.

  6. Compilation of Local Costs of Connecticut’s Current Drug Polices

    DECEMBER 2009



    Final draft


    Since the passage of the federal Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control of Act of 1970, a law designed to criminalize the manufacture, distribution, and possession of controlled substances, the United States has embarked on a very costly and ineffective “War on Drugs.” We have seen increases in the criminalization of drug use and possession and the lengthening of criminal sentences, thus in spite of committed prosecution of this “War” and its cost, we have not seen any positive effect from these policies.

    The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 brought all the drugs listed under this act under the control of the federal government. The manufacture, distribution, and possession of controlled substances were regulated by this act and control moved from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Justice. The scheduling of drugs took place under this act making marijuana a Schedule I drug. Throughout the 1980’s the federal government continued to pass new drug legislation. The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 was designed to help the federal government apprehend, prosecute and incarcerate drug dealers and users. The Anti Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988 substantially increased penalties by setting mandatory minimum sentences for simple possession, established the schoolyard laws which increased penalties for distribution of drugs within 1000 feet of a school, created the cabinet level “drug czar” position, and reinstated the death penalty to be used by the federal government for anyone convicted of a drug related killing or anyone convicted as a drug kingpin.

    Increased resources were allocated to fight the war on drugs. In 1985, about $2.7 billion was allocated by the federal government to fight the war on drugs. In 2010, President Obama requested $15.5 billion for FY 11 (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2010, February 1), but this figure does not include the cost of prosecuting federal offenders or the cost of incarceration. In 1973, President Richard Nixon established the Drug Enforcement Administration, a new agency to combat the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs. The DEA had a budget of $75 million and employed less than 1500 agents. In 2008, the DEA had a budget of $2.3 billion and employed more than 5000 agents. In 1982, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was given concurrent jurisdiction with the DEA over federal drug law violations.

    Since 1970, there have been progressive and substantial increases in the amount of drug arrests, convictions and those committed to correctional institutions. In 1970 there were 322,300 drug arrests, in 1980 there were 581,000 drug arrests, in 1989 there were 1,362,000 and in 2008 there were 1,702,537 arrests for drug abuse violations at the state and local levels and almost half are marijuana arrests. For comparison purposes, there were 1,687,345 arrests for burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson combined (UCR, 2008). In 2008, drug arrests constituted 12% of all arrests and was the highest single category of arrest. Drug offenders make up 30% of all offenders admitted to state prisons nationally, and 53% of federal prisoners are drug offenders. There are more than 500,000 total persons imprisoned for drug offenses.

    In Connecticut, drug offenders make up the second largest category of offenders in prison, the first category being violation of probation or conditional discharge. Seventeen percent (17%) of Connecticut’s prisoners are incarcerated on drug offenses.

    If the increases in resources expended, in arrests and incarceration led to a significant reduction in drug availability, drug use, and drug related crime among Americans, it would be possible to argue that the desired outcomes justified the expenditures. However, the data indicate there is no reduction in perceived availability of drugs among school age children and there is only a modest reduction in the number of school age children who have tried drugs in the last year (Monitoring the Future).

    With the introduction of the DEA and the emphasis on drug enforcement and interdiction, one might expect that less drugs would be available for sale and the price of those drugs would increase. Yet, the prices for cocaine and heroin have declined by 80% since 1980 (Caulkins & Reuter, 2006). Although there was a spike in marijuana prices in 1990, there has been a significant decline since 1992. Drugs on the streets today are fairly cheap.

    The Cost of Hartford’s Drug War
    After 40 years of a federal drug policy that has failed to meet its own stated goals, it is time to examine the cost associated with the enforcement of current drug laws to determine whether the outcome justifies resources expended. This report will focus on the city of Hartford and the costs associated with this very localized aspect of the drug war. The challenge is the difficulty in compiling an objective and accurate summary of costs. News reports often rely on unsupported conjecture or out-dated figures. Public figures who are quoted in such reports may be using biased figures in order to advocate for a particular agenda or point of view. Finally, a reliable, accurate breakdown of costs for some categories is simply not available.

    A variety of data sources were used to prepare this report including federal data based on home surveys and data gleaned from self-report studies.

    The academic and government data sources used to prepare this report include those from the FBI, the Bureau of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “Summary of Findings from the 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse”, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, data from the Connecticut Department of Health, and the University of California’s Institute for Health and Aging and analyses by the Lewin Group. Recognizing that each data set has its own limitations, we can still present useful estimates regarding the costs of implementing current drug policies. It should also be noted that the most conservative interpretation of the data has been consistently used in this report.

    In spite of these limitations, this report will present as precise, but conservative cost for pursuing the drug war in Hartford, Connecticut as possible. It is our hope that such information will stimulate intelligent conversation about how to reduce the burden of illegal drugs in our communities.

    The Report:

    The report divides the costs in Hartford into nine general categories described in the text below and supplemented by the attached appendices:

     Local police costs
    • Court costs
    o Community Court (possession of small amounts of marijuana)
    o Superior Court (more serious drug offenses)
    • Department of Corrections costs
    • Probation, parole costs
    • Halfway and Transitional Houses
    • State and federal interdiction costs
    • Homicide deaths
    • Overdose deaths
    • Taxes not presently collected

    Deaths caused by drug use other than homicides or overdose deaths (e.g., HIV/AIDS, hepatitis) are not included in this report, which is limited to costs directly or indirectly related to the laws governing the sale or use of presently illegal drugs.

    A summary of the costs born by the residents of the City of Hartford associated with each of the nine categories appears below. The explanation for these numbers is found in the text following the chart.

    Hartford, Connecticut’s Share of the Cost of the Drug War

    Cost heading cost

    Local Police costs $21,933,814
    Court Costs
    Community Court $ 62,424
    Superior Court $ 2,511,065
    Department of Corrections $ 14,020,621
    Probation and Parole:
    Adult probationers $ 7,012,549
    Juvenile probationers $ 1,285,040
    Parole $ 652,243
    Parole Violations $ 1,833,596
    Halfway and Transitional Houses $ 7,493,704
    State and Federal Drug Interdiction $24,279,233
    Homicide costs $34,253,783
    Overdose death costs $25,064,900
    Taxes not presently collected $ 8,528,161

    Total Costs $148,931,133

    Local Police Costs:

    In Hartford’s 2008-2009 fiscal year, 22.3% of the arrests were for drug charges . This figure does not include other arrests, which have a high likelihood of being related to drug use, such as robberies or burglaries committed to obtain drug money.

    This report uses the method employed by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron , who calculated a rough cost of policing the drug war in Massachusetts by multiplying the total police budget by the percentage of arrests for drugs. The budget of the Hartford Police Department for the 2009-2010 budget year is $36,556,357. 22.3% of the arrests in the last fiscal year were for drugs (not counting drug-related arrests ), thus yielding an annual drug war cost of $8,152,068. Marijuana arrests made up of 22% of total drug arrests, or 4.2% of all arrests, therefore the cost of pursuing marijuana offenses alone is $1,793,455.

    Since as much as 80% of serious crimes (aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, and prostitution) may be drug related , it is appropriate to include these. Doing so boosts the total cost by $12,781,746 to $21,933,814), of which $4,825,439 is devoted to marijuana. Homicides, also thought by the Bureau of Justice to be related to drugs in 80% of the cases, are not included in this section. It is important to note that Hartford Police believe that the city homicide rate is nearly 100% drug-related. (See the section below which deals with homicides. For comparison, statistics from other cities are cited in the Appendix).

    Court Costs

    o Community Court: The Community Court docket handles only low-level marijuana cases. More serious drug offenses are handled in Superior Court. For the last two years, the percent of Community Court cases dealing with marijuana offenses ranged between 6.3% and 6.8% or an average of 6.55% of 8,118 arraignments in 2007-2008 to 11,789 total arraignments in 2008-2009. The annual budget for Community Court is $2.4 million; therefore the cost of handling Hartford drug cases in Community Court is $204/arraignment. There were 306 Hartford marijuana cases in Community Court in the calendar year 2008 for a total cost to handle low-level marijuana cases of $62,424 .
    o Superior Court: The Superior Court handles all other drug arraignments. The total cases adjudicated in Superior Court for 2008 was 570,497 and the number of drug cases only from Hartford is 7103 (2008). The budget for Superior Court is $201,683,115 or $354 per case. Therefore the cost of handling all of Hartford’s Superior Court drug cases is $2,511,065.

    Department of Corrections Costs

    o According to an Office of Legislative Research Report , as of March 12, 2008 there were 2,886 Hartford residents incarcerated by the Department of Corrections. Although 70-80% of individuals involved in the prison system have a drug or alcohol problem, only 11% or 318 of Connecticut’s inmates are incarcerated with a drug charge as the primary charge. The 11% figure used here should be considered conservative, particularly when compared to neighboring New York State which has 20% of inmates incarcerated for drug offenses. . According to information provided by the Office of Fiscal Analysis, the annual cost to incarcerate an inmate in Connecticut in FY 06 was $44,165 . This figure includes fringe benefits, statewide cost allocation program distribution (which the Department of Correction must pay other state agencies for services), building depreciation, equipment depreciation, and bond interest. These 318 inmates from Hartford cost $14,020,621 annually.

    Hartford Probation, parole costs
    Ct Parole budget 2008-2009: budget cases cases cost/case total
    o Juvenile Probation $14,700,515 1,900 168 $7,737 $1,299,816
    o Adult Probation $79,379,950 55,908 4,939 $1,420 $7,013,380
    o Board Pardons & Parole $ 6,192,924 3,665 386 $1,690 $ 652,243
    o Parole violations $16,669,050 220 $1,833,596

    o Board of Pardons & Parole: This is a conservative number since the Pew Report reports that nationwide parole supervision can be as much as $2,750 per parolee.

    Halfway Houses:

    o As of November 2009 , there were 1,077 Connecticut inmates living in halfway houses, of which 167 were from Hartford. The average cost of housing an inmate in a halfway house is $45,000 per year , therefore the annual cost of drug related assignments to halfway houses for drug offenders from Hartford is $7,493,704. Because of the difficulty associated with determining the hometown of halfway house residents, an estimate of those from Hartford here is based on the fact that 16% of the inmates in corrections facilities with drug charges are from Hartford. This report makes the assumption that those assigned to halfway houses represent approximately the same percentage.

    Federal and state law enforcement efforts

    o It costs the United States about $60 billion per year in state and federal money to interdict the supply of drugs from outside US borders. The US population is presently 307.7 million, so this represents an expense of $195 per person per year. For its 124,512 Hartford residents, that represents $24,279,233 per year.


    o Homicides are a downstream cost that is not easily measured in money terms. In 2008, 35 people were murdered in Hartford. 75-80% of homicides across the country are drug-related. The Hartford Police Department has opined that Hartford’s percentage is much higher. If, however, 75% is the correct figure, 26.25 homicides per year are one of the downstream costs of the drug war in Hartford. According to Corso et al , the average cost per homicide is $1.3 million in lost productivity and $4,906 in medical costs for a total of $1,304,906 per homicide. That is equal to $34,253,783 total cost each year attributable to homicides in Hartford
    o There were 224 drug overdose deaths in Connecticut in 2007, approximately 20% of which occur in the urban areas (roughly 44). According to the state Department of Public Health, Hartford’s share has been a consistent 25 accidental drug overdose deaths each year. According to national figures, there has been a remarkable increase in overdose deaths in the past 10 years. When examined in detail it is found that the increase is not due to street drugs but to the non-medical use of opioids (not heroin). Arbitrarily assigning the same cost to drug overdose deaths as is assigned to suicide deaths ($1,002,596) would suggest a total cost for the overdose deaths in Hartford of $25,064,900 each year. It is not clear from the data whether these deaths are due to illegal drugs alone or whether in some cases they were associated with alcohol intake.

    Taxes not collected on drugs sold within the city

    o It is difficult to unravel the financial complexity of the illegal drug economy since there are no store receipts, tax returns, employment records, wage or salary records, inventory numbers, transportation cost records, no records of how profits are spent, shifted, or laundered, and only rough estimates of how much citizens of Hartford spend on illegal drugs. “It’s an impossible figure to guess” Baltimore Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi stated in response to inquiries about the size of the illegal drug economy in Baltimore, Maryland. , . This report aims to say that it is a possible figure to estimate reasonably, yet conservatively.

    o Using ONDCP data, US Census data, and Hartford Police Department arrest statistics, the size of the drug market in Hartford is determined to be $42,640,832, admittedly a conservative number. If taxed at 20% of its street value (taxes on cigarettes are 30%), the value of these taxes not collected is $8,528,166 annually.

    Additional Downstream Costs:

    o Whereas this study was limited in scope, we recognize there are a myriad of other economic and social costs that could be added to the list above. These include drug-related illness, premature death, increased emergency room costs and the spread of serious infectious diseases, increased sick time, poor workplace performance, additional medical costs, lost productivity (potential market and household productivity) , the cost of money laundering, workplace drug use , auto accidents, loss of income due to crime careers, and incarceration.


    The cost of fighting the drug war in Hartford is conservatively estimated at $148,931,133 each year. These costs are not borne by city government alone, but are shared by state and federal governments, local hospitals, non-profits and even indirectly by private businesses. These costs are consistent with Dorothy Rice’s estimates that pursuing the drug war costs every United States citizen $1,000 per year. Based on Rice’s estimate, Hartford‘s share would be $124,500,000 per year

    The costs of our present drug policy, however, extend far beyond the legal costs when health and other ‘downstream’ costs are included in what is a $42 million dollar Hartford drug economy . The sum total of these financial costs must be added to the quality of life issues, family disruption, impact on education, job procurement, economic development, and the sense of contentment in our communities.

    Continuing a policy in which criminal elements control a large portion of the economy, exacting such a profound cost, is difficult to support in the face of the findings in this report.


    Comparison of Costs of Drug Arrests

    A Selection of Cities in Connecticut

    City Police Budget Arrests Drug Arrests % cost of drug arrests
    New Haven $37,309,457 15,596 1860 12% $ 4,477,134
    Bridgeport $78,539,818 6,330 1045 16.5% $12,959,069
    Waterbury $ 1,620,853 9,082 943 26.5% $ 457,655
    Westport $ 8,484,795 839 140 16.0% $ 1,357,567
    West Hartford $12,892,492 5,343 1182 22.1% $ 2,849,240
    Stamford $42,174,639 3,840 460 12% $ 5,052,170
    Simsbury $ 3,800,000 410 42 10.2% $ 389,268
    Glastonbury $8,750,769 946 155 16..4% $ 1,433,794
    New London $10,880,420 2,843 722 25.4% $ 2,763,160

    • Syracuse, New York: The Syracuse police department took a total of 479,00 ‘actions’ in responding to 188,668 service requests. Arrests accounted for 28,800 of these actions and 6,300 of these (21.9%) were for drug related offenses , which is approximately the same percentage of drug arrests as Hartford (22.3%). Syracuse has a population of 147,306 and a 2004 police budget of $37,867,497, approximately the same as Hartford. Using Miron’s method of calculation, Syracuse spends $8,292,981 fighting the drug war. 31.9% of drug arrests or 6.9% of all arrests in Syracuse were for possession or sale of marijuana that would represent $2,645,460 for police costs related to marijuana arrests.

    o In an article by John Hazelhurst describing the drug economy in Colorado Springs, where age demographics trend younger than statewide Colorado figures, as many as 15 percent of residents are thought to be marijuana users. Given a metropolitan population of 550,000, that translates to 80,000 people. Law enforcement officials, users and dealers estimate that the average marijuana user in Colorado Springs purchases/consumes about three ounces annually at a cost of about $1,000/yr. That translates into a yearly retail market in Colorado Springs of $80 million.
    o If 15% of Hartford’s 124,000 residents are, as in Colorado Springs, marijuana users at the same level, then Hartford is supporting 1,860 marijuana users who are spending $1,860,000 per year

    o A report from the Greater Baltimore Committee estimated that 85% of all felonies were drug-involved. The same report states that addicts typically need an average of about $100 each day ($36,500 per year) to support their heroin and cocaine habits, money that comes from activities like begging, mugging, car or home break-ins. Baltimore Health Department Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein estimated the number of Baltimore addicts at 50,000 out of a total population of 664,000, so the total amount spent by addicts for their drugs would be $1,825,000,000 each year. Even arbitrarily reducing this remarkable figure by half to $900 million each year remains a staggering figure that leaves out a long list of related costs which are part of the illicit drug economy: the true value (rather than the street value) of the stolen goods, property damage, health and emotional damages, and lost wages such crimes often inflect upon their victims.

    o Different studies in the same town—Baltimore—come up with different estimates of the financial size of the illicit drug economy. Baltimore is 5.3 times the size of Hartford). DrillDown estimated that $872 million existed as unrecognized (by the census) income due to informal economic activity—7% of the city’s total economy. The authors of this report also could not estimate what part of this 7% was from the drug economy and what was from ‘under the table’ legal activity. The Greater Baltimore Committee, a business group, in its 2005 report “Smart on Crime”), stated that Baltimore’s heroin and cocaine market would be worth $912 million annually, considerably more per capita than Hartford’s.

    o According to the Governing State and Local Sourcebook , the total Connecticut state and local police spending in 2006 was $905 million. The local share of this spending was 88.1% or $797,305,000. If the average number of drug arrests across the state is approximately 15.5% of all drug arrests, then by this method of calculation it is costing local Connecticut police across the state $1,235,824,145 to fight the drug war.

    o Clearly the research from which these final figures are derived has yielded considerably different results, based on differing assumptions, methods of data collection, and strictness of criteria for sorting the data. Still, attempting to get a handle on the financial implications of the drug war is worthwhile, even with such disparate results. The amounts are large as are the estimates of the total amount spent by the federal and state law enforcement agencies (estimated at $50-60 billion per year).

    o There are also differing opinions as to how much of the drug money is recycled into the community, spent for such far-ranging expenditures as cars, in bodegas, bars and clubs, supplementing family budgets, bribery, legal fees, street corner look-outs and messengers, and clothing. As reported in the Baltimore City Paper , money is paid to residents for basement space to cut drugs, support for block parties, to buy loyalty and support, or to hold their stash.

    o Charitable foundations and the federal government spend $1 million per week in Baltimore on drug treatment programs, creating hundreds of additional jobs–many of them for recovering addicts–which depend on an amorphous, uncountable addict population. Other unknown costs are the amounts that city police draw in overtime, seize millions of unrecorded dollars worth of cars, real estate, and cash every year, leaching wealth from the city’s drug economy and from its citizenry but never really wounding it.

    o The loss of productivity and wages induced by the drug war can also be expressed in the following way: A prisoner is not a productive member of society while incarcerated and, based on an average of eight years in prison, the total foregone earnings for each career criminal is $52,000 .

    o The infectious disease deaths are not related to the legal aspects of the drug war, as are the overdose deaths and homicides. It is of interest, however, to review the following. Based on a review of the scientific literature, 32 percent of HIV/AIDS deaths were drug-related . The following were also counted: 30 percent of deaths from hepatitis B; 20 percent of deaths from non-A/non-B hepatitis.

    Hartford figures, etiology : deaths due to drugs cost state /city*
    All hepatitis cases 17 2.4 $ 192,000
    HIV 94 12.9 $8,359,200

    *(According to Safe Injection Facilities Conf (2009) in NYC, It costs
    $648,000 per HIV infection per case and $60-100K per hepatitis C case without liver transplant per case (4 times that if a liver transplant is necessary)

    o There are additional costs related to the delivery of health care. In 1998 6.4 percent of full-time workers reported current illicit drug use as did 7.4 percent of part-time workers. In 1997, occupations with the highest drug-use rates, among full-time workers, aged 18-49, were food preparers, waiters/waitresses and bartenders (19 percent), construction (14 percent), other service occupations (13 percent), and material movers (10 percent).

    o Even these estimates make no allowances for the impact of drug abuse on the quality of life of the family, neighbors or neighborhood, homelessness, or the victims of drug abusers or on the drug abuser himself/herself. Additionally, the attitude of drug sellers is that upkeep of their ‘business property’ is of little interest, a contributing factor to neighborhood blight. All told, problem drug use has become the single most significant deterrent to urban economic development and the investment in, and recovery of cities.

Comments are closed.